Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) is planning to issue a tender for the $4.5bn Ras al-Zour power and water plant by the end of November, according to sources close to the project.

The scheme will be developed on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis, and replaces previous plans to build an independent water and power project (IWPP) at the site.

“We assume SWCC will issue the request for proposals at the end of November or the beginning of December,” says one of the sources.

SWCC will tender the project as two separate power and water packages, with bids due in March 2010. The client aims to award the contracts in mid-2010. The successful bidder should then deliver the first power from the plant in late 2012.

The gas-fired combined cycle power plant will have capacity of 2,400MW.

The desalination plant will have capacity of 226 million gallons a day (g/d) of water and is likely to use thermal desalination and reverse osmosis desalination technologies. Reverse osmosis will account for up to 25 per cent of the plant’s water supply.

SWCC has yet to decide how it will prequalify contractors, but at least three companies have already approached the client about the project.

The current scheme is the result of a merger of two projects: Water & Electricity Company’s Ras al-Zour IWPP and a power plant to serve Saudi Arabian Mining Company’s (Maaden) integrated aluminium complex, which is being built nearby.

Maaden plans to take 1,350MW of power and 6 million g/d of desalinated water from the plant, while SWCC will take 220 million g/d of water and Saudi Electricity Company will take 1,000MW of power.

The government scrapped Water & Electricity Company’s plans to develop the Ras al-Zour plant as an IWPP after the company’s preferred bidder, a consortium led by Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, fell apart.

Malaysia’s Malakoff International pulled out of the consortium and Sumitomo struggled to find a replacement (MEED 17:4:09).